Monday, October 31, 2011

Holding On & Letting Go

" To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21

The pediatrician passed us and then turned to do a double take. He called out to my elder daughter and myself. And his words cut me to the core.

"WOW, no more little girl..."

At the tender age of 9, I know she is still a little girl, but the Lord is preparing my heart. Just two weeks earlier, I had immersed myself in the tedious task of cleaning out our older child's closet. I discovered that there were pieces of her life I desperately wanted to hold on to. I kept some outfits, locks of hair, first pieces of art, her first transportation tag from kindergarten, etc. As I carefully packed away precious moments that were fading in my forty-something memory, the deep pit of my stomach ached as I wrestled once again with the undeniable reality that holding on will be counter productive as our children age. In His timing and with His guidance I will learn to "let go".

This prompted another thought...what else am I holding on to? And so I ask you, what are you holding on to? Are we harboring pride, pain, bitterness, greed? Any one of these are counter productive to OUR growth.

I often need to be reminded of the things I am holding on to and of God's beautiful teachings on why and how we can release those, making us free, content and joyful. Holding onto precious keepsakes of our children is sweet and even comforting, however clinging to the things of the world, (the earthly dangers that the Lord has specifically instructed us against) present a plethora of unease and peaceLESSness.

So how does the Lord instruct us?

Regarding "pride"

This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

Regarding "bitterness"

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away
from you, along with all malice." Ephesians 4:31

"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you." Matthew 6:14

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God,
for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Regarding "greed"

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth
corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matt 6:19-21

As I contemplate these things, I find myself grateful that the Lord has addressed these issues...we know better. Though it is not easy to let these go, it is even harder to hold onto them. In that spirit, what can you let go of today?

Dear Lord, show me the areas I need to let go. Father, take those things and fill the voids with your perfect peace. Continuously remind me, Lord to release that which holds me back or stops my growth. Grant me your will Lord and not my own. ~Amen


Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Back

It's that time of year once again.  Time to set our clocks back an hour (on Sunday November 6). Time to get out our fall and winter clothes, and time to hunker down for the upcoming winter.

On November 6th, the newscasters will remind everyone to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Just a good time to prepare.

How about your spiritual walk? This might be a good time to check your spiritual batteries, and put on your armor. How about falling back into God's arms during this upcoming season in your life.

A new season is coming - we can smell it in the air. Are you ready?
During autumn, I've noticed the animals eat more. I suppose they do it to keep warm in the pending cooler temperatures.

This might be a good time for us to eat more spiritual food, too. If we are full of God's word then we will be ready when seasons of trials come our way.

Let's learn from nature, and be prepared for the next season - winter.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do you want...?

Do you want to walk closer to our Lord?

Bow your heart before Him.

Do you want to grow in intimacy with our Savior?

Bend your knee to Him.

Do you want to have an ever growing and mighty relationship with our King?

Devour His Word.

Do you want an elevated glimpse of His glory?

Upon rising each morning, pour out confession to Him. Repent and cleanse your heart of all unholiness. Purify your thought process with prayer.  Determine to walk purposefully in His ways and pursue Him in all things. Seek Him with all of your heart and long for Him with a deep yearning.

If you desire these things, God will make Himself known to you! He wants us to want Him! He longs for us to long for Him! He wants to be found by us! 

Thank you, Precious Lord, for giving us seeking hearts. May we search for you with all of our hearts and never be satisfied with our spiritual walk. May we always be hungry for more...

"And ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with 
all your heart"
(Jeremiah 29:13)


Monday, October 24, 2011

Winner of "You Can Have a Happy Family" Announced

Winner of You Can Have a Happy Family Announced

“Your spouse completes you and together you are one. As God works in both of you, you will start to see how you fit together. We tend to only see what is in front of us right now. We often don’t look ahead to see the big picture God has drawn out for our families. We need to look beyond our problems and see our marriages as God sees them, restored and whole. I may not have a perfect marriage now and I am definitely not perfect, nor is my husband, but I look ahead to what God can change us to be. Amanda Beth, You Can Have a Happy Family, 60.

I asked Amanda two questions about her book, You Can Have a Happy Family. The questions and her answers are below.

1) What inspired you to write this book?

The Lord inspired me. I was leading Bible studies in my home when I felt a strong leading from the Lord to write this book. My husband and I had a rough relationship for the first half of our 15 years of marriage. Once God worked in our marriage, people started noticing. My husband and I were often asked by others how we had such a happy marriage and family. We would always tell people that it was all God. But I felt it left people wanting to know more. That's when I knew God wanted me to share the steps He took us through to help us find true contentment in our home.

2) How do you hope this book will encourage Christian families?

My hope for this book is that the reader would know how much they are loved by the Lord. I pray that this book would give people hope and encouragement in their marriages and raising their children. I want the reader to walk away certain that God is fighting for their marriages and families. He truly wants nothing but the best for us.

Amanda Beth
Author, You Can Have a Happy Family

I am always looking for good resources for families. Right now my wife and I and another husband and wife are showing a video series on marriage to a young couple engaged to marry in June. There is a booklet accompanying the series with a Bible study on marriage and interactive questions. The next week we discuss our answers and then view the next video. It is encouraging to the two married couples, and even more so for the young couple. Biblical and common sense teaching on marriage and family is so important.

Amanda Beth’s book is a good resource for families. It could be used for personal reading or a small group study. You will enjoy it.

And now, the winner of the drawing to receive a free copy of Amanda’s book is ...


Thanks everyone for participating! And in a few weeks I plan on having another give away on Family Fountain.

Warren Baldwin

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grace or Discipline?

"I forgot my lunch. Will you bring it for me?"

I couldn't help but sigh. I guess the fact that my daughter called while I was unloading the dishwasher, her job, that she'd also "forgotten" to do before she left for school. And the fact that I had asked her, before she left, "Do you want me to pack your lunch?" But she had wanted to do it herself. Now she was calling for me to pack and bring her lunch which would force me to change my plans.

"Can't you buy your lunch?" I asked. She didn't like what they were having. I signed again and said, begrudgingly, that I would bring her lunch. "Nevermind, I'll just buy." Now I'd hurt her feelings. *sigh!* I told her it was no problem, and that I'd see her by lunchtime.

Grace? Discipline? Which applied here? Should I have made her buy her lunch, teaching her a lesson in responsibility? Should I have cheerfully agreed, showering her with grace? There are no easy answers!

She isn't characterized by forgetting her lunch, in fact this was her first time, and she has a brand new Vera Bradley lunch box she wanted to bring, so I guess I made the right decision. Although I did inform her that next time she forgets, she will be buying her lunch.

I'm thankful for a heavenly father who knows just when to give discipline, and always acts in grace. I'd elaborate more, but now, I need to pack a lunch and run an errand.

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. 2 John 1:3


Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Ichthus is Backwards!

and other admissions of a Christian mom!

We had a deep long discussion, the children and I...about the fish. It goes this, wait, it goes that, wait...
When I felt they adequately understood which way the ichthus should go on the rear of our family car, I shooed them to the front yard to have their daddy affix the fish. I didn't give it much thought, until the children were huddled around the back of the car before we left to go to school. The younger one smiled happily at the handiwork of she and her daddy, the elder child, with the slightest hint of attitude breathed heavily with a small stomp of her foot. The problem? The fish.was.on.wrong.

A former version of myself would have immediately gone storming to find my husband, but the "me" that God is working on, is relegating responses like that to my past and seeking to find more Christlike approaches to all things. I left the fish, as is, not moving it, because it is a great reminder of when I swim against the current, against a great big God, who seeks only to love me.

That small fish reminds me that in my desire to "change" the way that the fish appears, it is me and not the fish that needs to change! The positioning of our fish reminds me of my lack of perfection and more importantly, God's perfect plan that we would depend more heavily on Him, than on our own thoughts and abilities. That little fish is an outward reminder of an inward struggle, a visible bookmark that even with the best intentions, sometimes it doesn't turn out the way we envision. And so, our grace is necessary.

Just as HIS grace is necessary. How often do we require His grace?

"All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:15-18

What is the Lord using in your life to change your heart? How can we be less concerned with outward appearances and more concerned with inward growth? Praying that you and I are able to find those unseen eternal events that radically change our reactions and our story.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Are you Ready?

For years, my husband and I have toyed with the idea of buying a beachfront house.  Going to the ocean is our favorite family vacation.  Other than the obvious exorbitant cost, the other thing holding us back:  Hurricane Season!
PhotobucketIf we did have the money, I think we'd get over our fear of a hurricane and buy one.  So how would we keep ourselves prepared for the pending storms?

1) We'd keep wood handy for battening down the hatches.
2) We'd have about a weeks worth of food and water in our beach house.
3) Insurance.

Next, we'd enjoy every moment of every day on the beach. Even though you know a hurricane will eventually come, none lives in constant fear of them.  Once you are prepared, you simply enjoy and relax - until you see the storm on the horizon.  But even then, you have the supplies you need to weather the storm.

It's the same with our spiritual walk. We want to live each day drawing closer to God in a good relationship. But, trials are coming, so we should prepare for them by:

1) Reading and memorizing scriptures.
2) Praying daily - developing a relationship with God.
3) Doing Bible studies and talking to other Christians.
4) Journaling.

Then, when a trial is spotted on the horizon, we brace ourselves and pull out our spiritual supplies.  We draw closer to God and weather the storm together.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

remember YHWH

When Jonah receive a Word from the Lord, he didn't heed it. He didn't embrace it. He ran from it. His journey that should have led him to Nineveh instead led him deep inside the belly of a whale. All alone. Imprisoned in the darkness and cast out of the Lord's sight.

While the waters were compassed about him, Jonah prayed. He had the Word hidden in his heart and he drew strength from this. From his deep pit of despair and distress. Jonah remembered YHWH.

Jonah knew that God was a God of mercy. In the isolation of his incarceration inside the whale, Jonah became submissive and repentant. And he knew that the prayer was heard by Jehovah in His Holy temple.

"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; and
my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple"
(Jonah 2:7)

Jonah desired the same mercy that he was trying to keep from the people of Nineveh. He desired God to bestow on him something that he wasn't willing to bestow on others.

God had compassion on Jonah. Compassion that we should strive to have on others. God reached down and lifted Jonah out of his place of despondency and grace him generously.

When we find ourselves in the midst of discouragement and deep in a pit of sin, we must remember YHWH. We need to call on His name in prayer. Recognize our sin and spend time in confession. Repent and turn away from those sins. And then we need to strive to walk in Him and submit to His authority.

Remember the Lord. Cry out to Him. God hears the cry of His people.


Monday, October 10, 2011

God's Given You The Best

God’s Given You the Best

“The man said, ‘This is not bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they became one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24

After Jesus quoted this is Matthew 19:5 He went on to say in verse 6, “so they are not longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” I don’t know how we can take that any other way. God places a high value on marriage and so should we.

Trust that no matter how bad your marriage is, God can and will change you and your spouse if you will trust and allow Him to. Change your thoughts to what God can do. When our thoughts and actions are in agreement with God, nothing is impossible.

Malachi reveals God’s ultimate plan for our marriages. “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15

Satan works hard to try to destroy our marriages because he knows God’s plan for us is to raise up godly children. He knows the power in two hearts, surrendered to God’s will, and the positive impact their generations will have. God’s plan is to take us from where we are in our marriages and bring us together as one. Satan’s plan is to convince us we need to find someone better.

Some spouses think they need to find someone better because they married someone they were not warned not to. God warns us not to be unequally yoked before we get married, and He warns us in many other ways for our own good. He gives us these warnings because He knows ahead of time the heartache and problems we will face.

However, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that we should get a divorce when we realize we made a mistake and married someone who wasn’t God’s first choice for us.

David in the Bible is a perfect example. He married Bathsheba after he committed adultery with her and had her husband killed. Do you think it was God’s will for David to have another man’s wife? Second Samuel 11:27 says, ‘David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

David acknowledged he did wrong and repented. God used their second son, Solomon, to be the direct line to Jesus. I believe God purposely did that to sow us that He sees light in every darkness.

God can bring light out of every wrong thing we have done. He can take any wrong and turn it around for our good if we turn to Him. ‘If I say, Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become dark around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11-12

God works with us in whatever situation we are in. He calls us right where we are. His commands are always His first choice for us. He gives us these commands because He sees what we can’t see, and He knows what’s best for us.”

From You Can Have a Happy Family (pp.58-62), by Amanda Beth. Used by Permission.

Note: Amanda’s book is an excellent treatise on marriage and family. It deals with practical issues in a biblical and common sense manner. You will enjoy it. Amanda has given me an extra copy to share with readers. Anyone who comments here will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of You Can Have a Happy Family. Amanda maintains a couple of blogs, Sharing the Truths Behind the Truth and Enjoying Your Family.

Friday, October 7, 2011


As I study the book of Colossians, I am struck by the fervor with which Paul prayed. In the third verse, he says, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you." Yet, when Paul wrote this letter to the church at Colossae, he had never met them personally.  He had only heard about them from their pastor, Epaphras. This means that Paul was praying for people he had never met.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time making sure I spend enough time in prayer for the people I do know!

Of course, there are times when I pray for people I don't know personally. Sometimes I pray for the people our missionary friends come in contact with, especially when we receive another e-newsletter from around the globe. I also pray for some of you, my "blogging friends," whenever I read about a particular situation you may be going through. For the most part, though, I go about my days as "busy" as everyone else, trying to squeeze in some quiet time at night when everyone is in bed asleep.

So Paul's words are keeping me awake these days. He prayed. A lot. And for people he didn't even know. I'd like to be more like Paul when it comes to prayer.

Naturally, when I pray there are some names that are first to mind: Jeff, Simone, Brynn, and Parker. I don't think it's possible to pray too much for the people we love most. It's probably not possible to pray too much for anyone. After all, Paul said to "pray continually" (I Thessalonians 5:17).

So I think I'll sign off and go do just that.

Who are you praying for today?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Would You Be A Martyr?

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18-20 NIV

The national news has recently reported about an Iranian pastor who is facing execution for converting others to Christianity and refusing to denounce his Christian faith.

As I read the stories about this pastor, I can't help but wonder would I be willing to die for my faith? This man is just 32 years old, and has two young children. Yet, according to all accounts, he is risking and may in fact lose his life for his faith.

Biblical and historical accounts tell us that John the Baptist, Peter, Thomas, James and most of the apostles were martyred. But as Americans we take for granted the religious freedoms we are given every day.

So today I challenge you with two questions:

1. Would you be willing to give your life for your faith?

2. If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there even be any evidence to prosecute you?

It's something to thing about, isn't it? Pray for the Christians throughout the world today.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
2 Timothy 3:12 NIV


Sunday, October 2, 2011

There's No Place Like Hope

Several weeks ago, the Lord had laid upon my heart one of my co-workers. She was sad and lonely and when probed for answers, she said simply, "I have lost hope." My heart was broken for her and I felt helpless. Though, her name sat on many of the pages of my prayer journal and my heart was poised to intercede on her behalf, she wasn't feeling it. My mouth uttered pleas to the Lord to provide her with just a glimpse of His glory in her life. A smidgen...simply a smidgen. That can't possibly be too much, right?

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

During my moments of quiet solitude with the Lord, he reminded me of my own valley and the way He showed up with distinctive instructions to bring me back to Hope! I was in my twenties, watching my marriage fall apart and desperately seeking God's direction for my life. A youth pastor nights and weekends, I needed additional income as well as benefits to sustain my modest lifestyle. After a particularly harrowing visit to the pharmacy, where I learned how expensive my Chrohn's medication was without benefits, I left the pharmacy with the medication once my parent's charge card was billed. Hurting, embarrassed and fearful, I can honestly say, I was searching for Hope. In between the giant drops of rain, I ran to the car and sat there...for a long time...wondering how I had arrived at this place.

And I cried. And cried. And cried.

As though my prayers were being answered in that very moment, the Lord firmly instructed me to "go to the administration building." My tears ceased and I found myself in a full fledged arguement with the Lord. Which administration building? Why? I did not see how this had anything to do with my situation...and yet, the Lord was offering me HOPE.

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

In my flesh, this seemed crazy. However, I knew unequivocally it was the Lord speaking to my heart. He was spending time with me; He was answering my call for help. I was obedient. I went. I was hired for a job that would prepare me for many, many things in my life; all the while He allowed me the benefit of remaining in a ministry position proclaiming His name.

Sometimes, His silence is our answer. Sometimes, His immediate movement of our feet is our answer. Sometimes, there is a waiting period. Regardless of the timing or the answer, HE has complete and total control over the hopeless moments in our lives. HE is the answer.

Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

This is my prayer for my co-worker and for anyone seeking hope. There really is no place like HOPE, that beautiful place of confident expectation. Hope is not boxed in by circumstances or earthly notions...hope is rooted in the surety of Jesus Christ. Be blessed this day as you build your HOPE in HIM!